Sunday, May 04, 2008

May Day Memories: The U-2 Spy Plane Incident

During Communist days, May 1st was a major holiday in Russia, known as International Workers' Solidarity Day, a day to flex military muscle with a parade through Red Square.

But May 1, 1960, was likely the most dramatic May Day in history, thanks to the USA, particularly the CIA. It was on that day that (Francis) Gary Powers' U-2 spy plane was shot down over Russia and he was captured live.

Nikita Krushchev was quite pleased to announce the capture of the plane. Particularly since U.S. President Eisenhower had stated that the plane was a weather plane that had simply gone astray. But that was before he knew that Powers had been captured alive.

The trial of U-2 pilot Gary Powers was Cold War drama at its highest. He was sentenced to three years in prison and seven years of hard labor. As fate would have it, Powers served only 21 months of the sentence before he was exchanged for Soviet Master Spy, Rudolf Abel.

The spy swap took place near Potsdam, Germany on Glienicker Bridge over the Havel River. According to Time, The Soviet and East German officials clustered at one end, the Americans, led by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Burt, at the other. . .

This whole incident was quite controversial. Here is an interesting recent interview with Gary Powers Jr, son of the pilot and founder of the Cold War Museum.

And how about you, dear blog reader. Have you ever been poking around in somebody else's territory and got caught? Did you go to trial, per chance? This may be the time and place to spill the beans.

As for myself, I do have a confession to make. Approximately three years after Gary Powers and the U-2 incident, I found myself drawn by some magnetic force - pre-adolescent agnst, perhaps - to the decorative box in which a certain Mrs Bernard stored her cosmetics. In the mid-sixties, I was that family's babysitter and I loved dabbling in her blush and lipstick and such. Make-up was something that my mother did not wear at that time, a matter of principle, which made the tubes and potions and lotions all the more alluring. Especially the mascara. Wonder if Mrs Bernard had any idea. Of course, surveillance cameras were not readily available then but perhaps I had left other clues. But if she did, Mrs Bernard never let on. At least I was never brought to trial and sentenced to prison or hard labor. But had I had been caught, I certainly hope the mascara would have been waterproof.

1 comment:

John from Kansas said...

Those newsreel bring back memories. Eight minutes of world news with Ed Herlihy and Lowell Thomas reporting. Then on to the double feature. "The Lone Ranger" and "Strategic Air Command" with Jimmy Stewart.